Costume Designer Amy Roberts: The Frock Flicks Guide

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Amy Roberts has been designing for film and television since the late-1970s and is responsible for the costumes in films like Cold Comfort Farm (1995), The Virgin Queen (2006), season one of Call the Midwife (2012-), and most recently, seasons 3-5 of The Crown (2016-).

 

The Legend of King Arthur (1979)

Looks a lot like standard 1970s medieval-oid fantasy fare. Please note the unfortunate biggins on Felicity Dean.

 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1981)

I initially thought this was a picture of a late-Victorian painting. It’s not. It’s Helen Mirren as Titania, surrounded by her fairy court.

The human costumes look pretty decent, too!

 

Gulliver in Lilliput (1982)

Nice 18th-century costumes, even if the wigs are a little plastic-y!

 

Cold Comfort Farm (1995)

I love this film and I can’t believe we haven’t done more than a short review of it. That’s getting fixed soon!

 

Amongst Women (1998)

I’m sure this is a good film, but all the stills from it just show frumpy post-War clothing suitable for tromping through the wet English countryside. Meh.

 

Station Jim (2001)

Set in the 1890s, described in one review as a “harmless piece of escapist whimsy.” Probably won’t be watching it anytime soon.

 

Plain Jane (2002)

The costumes in this film, while intentionally boring, look really interesting.

 

Pollyanna (2003)

I loved the previous film iterations of this classic novel about a relentlessly optimistic orphan taken in by wealthy relatives, eventually charming them with her upbeat attitude. The costumes in this version look good.

 

Carrie’s War (2004)

Set during the Second World War, the film follows the adventures of Carrie and her brother Nick when they are evacuated to a Welsh mining town.

 

The Virgin Queen (2005)

2005 The Virgin Queen

Check out our review of this miniseries starring Anne-Marie Duff.

 

Dracula (2006)

I had to use this shot from the film because it’s so cheesy… But the costumes actually do look really good. I might even give it a watch, despite not being into the whole vampire thing…

 

Oliver Twist (2007)

Usually films set in grimy Victorian London don’t really inspire me, but the costumes in this remake of Dickens’ classic novel actually look interesting, filth notwithstanding.

 

Wuthering Heights (2009)

Tom Hardy’s wig, y’all. Enough said.

 

Margot (2009)

Anne-Marie Duff plays forty-something ballerina Margot Fonteyn whose career is revitalized when Rudolf Nureyev defects from the Soviet Union in 1961 and is picked up by the Royal Ballet. The costumes look stellar, so I’m definitely adding this to my watch list.

 

Joe Maddison’s War (2010)

Included for completion’s sake, but we generally don’t review WWII films.

 

The Nativity (2010)

Not going to go out of the way to watch this flick, but it does star future She-Hulk Tatiana Maslany as the Virgin Mary.

 

Upstairs Downstairs (2010-2012) (3 eps in 2010)

Amy Roberts designed the costumes for 3 episodes, and they’re pretty fabulous.

 

Room at the Top (2012)

Set in the 1940s, the plot deals with a love triangle between a young man who knows he should marry the wealthy young heiress, but he’s in love with an older married woman. Nice costumes.

 

Mrs. Biggs (2012)

A film about the wife of the mastermind of the Great Train Robbery, Ronald Biggs. That HAIR, you guys. Worth the price of admission alone.

 

Call the Midwife (2012-)

Amy Roberts designed the costumes for a few episodes of this popular feel-good series.

 

Jamaica Inn (2014)

2014-15 Jamaica Inn

ALL THE KICKY SHRUGS YOU COULD EVER WANT, PLUS JESSICA BROWN FINDLAY.

 

Cilla (2014)

A biopic about the early career of Cilla Black, an English singer and actress in the 1960s. Lots of cute dresses and big hair.

 

Partners in Crime (2015)

I need to watch this. The costumes look amazing. The first two episodes are based on the Agatha Christie novel The Secret Adversary, and the last three episodes are based on N or M?

 

An Inspector Calls (2015)

Check out our review for more discussion about the fabulous costumes!

 

Swallows and Amazons (2016)

A feel-good film about a brother and sister duo who enter into a “war” with two other children for control of a small island, set in 1935. Based on the 1930 novel of the same name by Arthur Ransome.

 

Babs (2017)

Biopic about the life of British actress Dame Barbara Windsor. I am 100% here for the big hair and bullet bras.

 

The Crown (2016-)

#LifeGoals

 

 

What are your favorite historical costume designs by Amy Roberts?

10 Responses

  1. Frances Germeshausen

    OMG, “Cold Comfort Farm.” It must be streaming somewhere. Especially now that we have our own woodshed.

    Reply
  2. Michael McQuown

    Partners In Crime is a disappointing remake of an earlier version. You could get splinters from Tommy’s acting. I wonder if Margo will include the scene where she and Rudy are dancing drunkenly down the street in (I think) Toronto, and Rudy kicks a cop. If remakes of Dracula were laid end-to-end, they’d probably get to the moon. I think it’s the most remade film, not to mention all the spinoffs, followed closely by Sherlock Holmes.

    Reply
  3. Michael McQuown

    PS Speaking of Tatiana Maslany, although it’s not a period piece, “Orphan Black” is a bravura performance, enhanced by brilliant costume and makeup work and stunning tech. Maslany plays over a dozen characters, and in many scenes is literally talking to herself — and herself.. Her equally talented brother, Daniel, is in a period piece — Murdoch Mysteries.

    Reply
  4. M.E. Lawrence

    A few things:

    WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME ABOUT A REMAKE OF “ROOM AT THE TOP”?

    The mention of “An Inspector Calls” led me to Kanopy.com, where I discovered that they have the version starring Alastair Sim, whom I love.

    “…frumpy post-War clothing suitable for tromping through the wet English countryside.” Ahem. That is the Queen’s favorite garb, especially the head scarf. Nonetheless, I see your point. Have been reading “Lady in Waiting” by Anne Glenconner (yes, the one who set Margaret up with Roddy in “The Crown”), which should be filmed, because it is full of fabulous costuming possibilities:

    Reply
  5. Maryanne

    Lots of good work. But I’d give partners in crime a miss in favour if the Francesca Annis version. Yes the 80 s show through but it’s a ripping yarn all the way.

    Reply
  6. saltrams

    Carrie’s War; that set my ancient brain off. There was a ?70s version that I seem to recall was one of my favourite TV programmes when I was a child. Thanks for the memory!

    Reply

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